Grynberg demands US$200 million plus costs!

L-R: PM Kenny Anthony, Haitian Ambassador Earl Huntley, Oil Billionaire Jack Grynberg and Opposition Leader Stephenson King.

It’s nothing short of mindboggling that a prime minister of this island, famous as it is for idle gossip, rum talk and mauvais langue, could have entered into an agreement with the world’s most contentious oil billionaire without anyone hearing about it for eight years.
No less shocking was the 2008 revelation that upon signing off on the deal in question the prime minister had instructed Earl Huntley, of all people, to keep all the related documents in his personal custody. His public service record was hardly spotless. At least once he had been declared guilty of abusing his office and acting without appropriate authority. What made him so trustworthy that the prime minister would repose in him such information as not even his Cabinet was privy to remains open to speculation.
Huntley offers a small hint. A self-serving newspaper article he published in 2009 had left no doubt that but for his serendipitous dip in the curative Dauphin waters one morning when he was cooking with swine-flu fever, he never would’ve stepped in what his companion from Babonneau had in her ignorance dismissed as unspeakably smelly dog shit. Of course, the far worldlier Huntley instinctively knew better. Something about the texture of this particular species of beach goo had struck him as so unusual as to warrant further investigation by an expert. His search for just the right man, with help from an accommodating Saint Lucian ambassador, had finally led to the notoriously litigious CEO of the Denver-based RSM Production Company. There was enough about his exploits on the Internet to fill the Castries Central Library—as indeed the government of Grenada had discovered, alas only after taking him on as a partner in a 1996 oil-exploration project that went no where yet had cost taxpayers over $10 million dollars.
As Huntley would later recall for the exclusive benefit of Voice readers, it had not taken his billionaire guest very long to confirm his hunch. The surrounding black hills at Dauphin and the even blacker beach sand, not to mention the unmentionable nasty stuff on Huntley’s foot, spoke loudly of lucrative oil deposits. All that remained was to start drilling. Easier said that done, for first there were the all-important various permits to be acquired. The authorities would have to be convinced of the project’s viability, a process that could take months, if not years. But then how many oil projects had ever boasted a finder who also was a powerhouse foreign affairs permanent secretary? Jack Grynberg had abruptly found himself in hog heaven. He had to have known, even before he set out to dig up the Saint Lucia seabed, that by hooking up with Earl Huntley he had struck black gold!
Unfortunately, there is nothing on record by which to determine how many times   Huntley and his RSM associate met with Saint Lucia’s prime minister. The official documents that Huntley reluctantly handed over after several requests by representatives of the Stephenson King government—and only at Grynberg’s recorded personal intervention!—are far from complete, according to officials. Nevertheless, they indisputably prove that on 29 March 2000 Kenny Anthony issued the oilman a permit authorizing him to explore
8.73 million acres of the Saint Lucia seabed, despite that the Minerals (Vesting) Act clearly states the governor general alone is authorized to do so.
Moreover, that even though Grynberg had invoked the agreement’s force majeure clause just six months later, the prime minister had extended both the agreed area and the oilman’s license to explore it for oil.
Despite that some twelve years have elapsed since the Grynberg engagement, Kenny Anthony has addressed the issue just once—and only to insist the contract had expired in 2007. Predictably, Anthony Astaphan, his lawyer for all seasons, had concurred.  A constitutional lawyer in private life, Kenny Anthony had gone so far as   to excoriate the day’s prime minister for having wasted a “colossal amount of  taxpayers’ money” in a pointless pursuit of legal advice when the evidence clearly indicated the contract had run its course.
For a time it seemed the issue had died a natural death. But with only a few months to go before the 2012 elections, Earl Huntley re-emerged from his ambassador’s residence in Haiti to assist Kenny Anthony’s campaign to unseat Stephenson King. Huntley recalled for the benefit of a regaled press that “de lyin’ King” had at some point after 2007 renewed the arrangements with Jack Grynberg.
Over the then prime minister’s persistent denials, Huntley—aided and abetted by King’s larger-than-life ejected former Cabinet colleague Ausbert d’Auvergne—claimed he had personally picked up an envelope containing the renewed contract from someone at the prime minister’s office. Alas, neither gentleman was in a position to enhance their credibility with proof of their outrageous allegation!
Then just last month the inevitable occurred. The Labour Party having been returned to office last November Prime Minister Kenny Anthony announced via a precedent-setting back-dated press release that Jack Grynberg had on 29 March 2012 had placed before the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes a complaint of contract complaint against the government of Saint Lucia centered on a breach of their contract secretly established exactly twelve years earlier.                 According to the prime minister’s press release, the suit also names the former prime minister. But to date Stephenson King has not read the actual complaint, save for versions doubtless edited for public consumption.
Ausbert d’Auvergne is also named in the complaint—as is Earl Huntley, to whom Jack Grynberg referred, in his correspondence with the King government, as “my trusted associate!”
It is worth noting that the local press has for undisclosed reasons refrained from soliciting further details of Grynberg’s suit from the prime minister, who remains as tightlipped on the matter as indeed he had been at the Ramsahoye Commission of Inquiry, set up in 2007 to investigate previously unknown details of Rochamel. Inexplicably, the opposition has been similarly silent on Grynberg.
No matter, RSM’s CEO claims in his suit that his company complied “with all its obligations under the agreement, both initially and as amended.”
Additionally: “Under this agreement RSM has an exclusive offshore license issued by Saint Lucia to explore, develop, produce and market oil and gas extracted from the agreement area. By claiming the agreement has expired, and threatening to place exploration rights in the subject area out to competitive bid, Saint Lucia has breached the agreement.”
Grynberg also claims: “RSM has undertaken significant efforts to resolve this dispute amicably . . . Initially these efforts were directed at Prime Minister King and his government.                 “Following the 2011 elections, Prime Minister Kenny Anthony, who had negotiated the original agreement, once again became prime minister.
“RSM attempted to negotiate with Prime Minister Anthony’s government, first through Earl Huntley, then at Mr. Huntley’s direction, through Saint Lucia’s attorney general.                         “Finally, at the attorney general’s suggestion, RSM reached out directly to Prime Minister Anthony. RSM sought, through communications with each of these individuals, to obtain either a prompt substantive meeting to discuss any differences between RSM and Saint Lucia or, if such a meeting could not be arranged promptly, RSM proposed a tolling agreement which would have allowed the parties to negotiate for several months without having to worry about any statutes of limitations expiring. None of these efforts solicited any substantive response from Saint Lucia.”
Besides seeking damages in excess of $US200 million, RSM has demanded that Saint Lucia “pay in full and compensate RSM as appropriate for the fees and expenses of the arbitrators, the ISCID administrative expenses and all costs incurred in connection with this arbitration, including without limitation the fees and expenses of all experts and all legal fees and expenses.”
Just for the record: Jack Grynberg has cited bribery in at least three of his disputes before the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes—including that involving the government of Grenada!
It remains to be seen where Earl Huntley will stand when the ISCID sits to consider the case of RSM versus Government of Saint Lucia. Will he be on the side of Kenny Anthony or will he stick with his friend “Jack,” Huntley’s trusting “associate?”         Considering his related services rendered above and beyond the call of duty—even when he was no longer a public servant—I, for one, can hardly wait to hear how well rewarded was Earl Huntley!

It remains to be seen where Earl Huntley will stand when the ISCID sits to consider the case of RSM versus Government of Saint Lucia. Will he be on the side of Kenny Anthony or will he stick with his friend “Jack,” Huntley’s trusting “associate?” Considering his related services rendered above and beyond the call of duty—even when he was no longer a public servant—I, for one, can hardly wait to hear how well rewarded was Earl Huntley!

Who knew a dip in the waters of the sea at Dauphin would lead to such an expensive appearance before the International Court for the Settlement of Investment Disputes?

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